Friday, September 10, 2010

Who Doesn’t Love the Wind?

vladimir-putin-polar-bears Russian President Vladimir Putin, that’s who.

"You couldn't transfer large electric power stations to wind energy, however much you wanted to. In the next few decades, it will be impossible," Putin said, adding that consumption patterns would only undergo minor changes.

He said the only "real and powerful alternative" to oil and gas is nuclear energy. He rejected other approaches as "claptrap."

Russian has a word for “claptrap?”

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Even though we’ve run a lot of stories about international activities, it’s actually rather hard to keep up with every country that wants to (re)join the nuclear family. So I thought it might be worthwhile to catalog a few countries that haven’t had a post yet – get them on the radar so we can take a better look at their ambitions going forward.

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Argentina has revived its nuclear energy industry, joining its neighbor Brazil.

President Cristina Fernandez's government is finishing construction on the South American country's long-stalled third nuclear power plant, and plans to build another two by 2025.

Lithuania, replacing its Soviet-era plant that it had to shutter as a precursor to joining the European Union.

Lithuania invited investors to bid on building a nuclear power plant to reduce the Baltic country’s dependency on energy imports from Russia.

It wants to get it running by 2019.

Jordan:

Jordan signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan, paving the way for Areva SA and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to sell reactors to the Middle East country.

2019 is again the target. That might be tougher where there hasn’t been an industrial or regulatory regime in place. Argentina and Lithuania do have prior experience with nuclear plants.

Kuwait:

Kuwait, the fifth-biggest oil producer among OPEC members, plans to build four nuclear power reactors by 2022, joining a drive for atomic energy among Gulf countries seeking alternative sources of electricity.

Apparently, the UAE has started a trend in the Middle East, with perhaps a dollop of neighborly trepidation over Iran’s activities. The Bloomberg story tries out a different explanation:

Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, and the United Arab Emirates are turning to atomic energy to save oil reserves for overseas sales. They need to allay U.S. concerns the technology may get diverted to weapons programs in a region that has experienced three major wars since the 1980s.

I’ve never really seen such concern expressed except about Iran. The evidence suggests that these countries want to open nuclear trade with the U.S. (and other countries) and are working as they should with the IAEA.

Kuwait ratified a protocol giving International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors access to future nuclear facilities to ease American concerns, said Tomoko Murakami, a nuclear analyst at the Institute of Energy Economics in Tokyo.

No offense to Murakami, but this would carry more weight from an American official.

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With all this international activity, I found this quote from Alternate Energy Holding’s Don Gillispie unusually germane:

"America still is the largest producer of nuclear power," stated Gillispie, "with about 31% of the total worldwide nuclear generation. And with all of the political pressures to legislate so-called green environmental standards, more and more nations are now considering nuclear power as a safe alternative energy source. The future is bright for nuclear power."

More and more nations indeed.

Vladimir Putin. Can’t know for sure, of course, but I sincerely doubt an American politician could win an election who photographs like this.

4 comments:

DocForesight said...

I don't know much Russian, but I might wager that "claptrap" sounds like 'vodka' with the proper amount of attitude-adjustment-hour input.

David DeAngelo said...

25% isn't bad - for wind. The inflated claims of wind advocates have led to higher expectations, which (no surprise) are not being met. Spain's wind network definitely operated at 24% in a couple of the yearly supply summaries that I looked at - 2007 and 2008 I think. A Daily Mail article? With no quotes or stats to back up these claims? Really?

Anonymous said...

Let's assume for the sake of argument that 25% is attainable by wind. OK, so, where does the other 75% come from? Looks like we've left out three quarters of the complete picture.

My guess is that 25% is about the best that we're going to do on the "renewables" side, and in that I include wind, solar, biomass, conservation, "micropower", and the like. You want to minimize carbon emissions on the other 75% still needed? Sounds like you're going to have to go with nukes.

Meredith Angwin said...

Capacity factor for wind depends both on location and the turbine design. When we (Coalition for Energy Solutions) were doing our estimates for wind in Vermont, we battled this out within the group. If we said "less than 25%" we could be accused of using old-time technologies for our capacity factors. If we went up to 35%, we were in the range of very new turbines in off-shore areas.